May 27, 2010, 12:29 PM

Out with the old

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AdSafe Media collects more than 50 data points on every web page within an ad network, explains Kent Wakeford, co-founder and chief revenue officer, data on everything from content and images to meta-tags that describe a page. And it’s looking for everything from subject matter to obscenity to hate speech to danger of malware. It then creates a rating for each page to reference during the ad serving process.

“And a brand can tell us any term or phrase they don’t want to be associated with,” Wakeford adds. “For example, if you’re an airline and don’t want to run an ad next to an article about a plane crash.”

The new technology has gone over well at ad agency Hill Holliday, which uses it with four clients.

“A major consumer packaged goods seller we work with has an objection to games of chance,” says Adam Cahill, senior vice president of digital media at Hill Holliday, which uses AdSafe to weed out pages that fall into this category. “Anything that could be considered a cousin of gambling, even playing Wheel of Fortune online, even if there is no money involved, they don’t want to be associated with it.”

Block and tackle
Once an ad campaign is launched, the agency receives reports of the number of impressions AdSafe blocks.

“We then can quantify the dollar value of that media—those would have been wasted impressions so we prevented that from happening,” Cahill explains. “And if we see a site or network has lots of impressions being flagged we can ask them what’s going on and consider changing the parameters of our buy.”

Hill Holliday was attracted to AdSafe because it prevents problems before they occur, Cahill says. “This has become a solution we are very proactively bringing to our clients as something they should be aware of, and that in our opinion is very reasonably priced for what it does,” he says.

The standard cost for AdSafe’s Brand Safety Firewall is 4 cents per thousand ads served, “similar to what we pay for ad serving and tracking,” Cahill says.

Rich video
While it’s key where an ad is being seen, what’s being seen is just as critical. A new trend in online display ad content is the use of video and other compelling imagery to drive better engagement with consumers.

Undertone Networks, an ad network with 400 site publishers and an ad technology provider with numerous Fortune 500 clients, has created a suite of online display ads that enable significant interactivity between consumer and ad.

For instance, Undertone can link a retailer’s product feed to an ad and enable ad viewers to scroll from left to right and back through the retailer’s product catalog, all within the confines of the ad. They then can select the product videos they want to view or share information with social network friends. And they can select a product and be sent to the retailer’s checkout page. Plus, they can sign up for an e-newsletter or mobile coupon.

In the fourth quarter of 2009, Undertone says, it worked with a major national retailer to bring its catalog and existing video assets to bear within online display ads.

“They were very interested in solving a problem: How do we show more of what we offer and differentiate ourselves when there are a lot of competing ads out there,” says Alan Schanzer, chief strategy officer at Undertone. “They wanted to have the option for consumers to see their selection of merchandise, see the depth of that selection, see how broad the catalog is, the choice to see more in video, and then be able to share with friends or family.”

Undertone ran online display ads across its ad network, targeting women primarily, using its full suite of technology for six weeks at the end of the year.

“We saw a very high interaction rate of 12%,” Schanzer says. “And we only count the secondary interactions. Scrolling over content could happen by accident, so we don’t count that. Someone then choosing to look at content, that’s an interaction.”

Save the day
And it’s interaction that every advertiser wants with their online display ads. New technologies and techniques are driving interactions, click-throughs and return on ad spend for retailers and ad agencies testing them out. And many think it’s such new technologies that could save the day for online display.

“An evolution in online display is very necessary,” says Ranford of 1-800-Flowers.com. “It’s important to be talking with up-and-coming companies that have new ideas to figure out new ways to get the biggest bang for your online display buck, now more than ever.”

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